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Court tosses challenges to coal permits

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Two utilities have been given permission to build new coal-fired power plants in northern and western Michigan. The state Court of Appeals has tossed out legal challenges to their permits. But, that doesn't mean the plants will be built.

Environmental groups went to court to challenge the permits. The state Department of Environmental Quality says the utilities demonstrated there was a demand for electricity. And the agency says the proposed coal plants in Holland and Rogers City met state and federal pollution standards.

But the economics of energy have changed since the power plants were first proposed. The Holland Board of Public Works is now looking to build a new plant that would run on less-expensive natural gas. And Wolverine Power is pursuing a partnership that would make the Rogers City plant unnecessary.

There is still plenty of litigation in Michigan over the roughly two-dozen existing coal-fired plants, some of which are among the oldest in the country.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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